First was that nobody saw her announcement coming. I heard rumors of something like this weeks ago, but then those rumors seemed not to be true with each passing day. I had heard back then she would quit and let someone else step up... and that she was going to "campaign for" one of the candidates... I didn't know which one, Rick or Kay. Turns out it was Rick. From the reports of people in the room, when she uttered the words about resigning and her intentions, the air in the room completely turned into a vacuum for a few moments, going silent, then the room began buzzing.
Second I heard that nobody on Kay's team saw this coming, and that they were completely blindsided at first not knowing how to react. The reaction later on turned to dismissive attitude, and even an attitude of downplaying Tina Benkiser and her considerable influence with leaders around the state. They point to the fact that Republicans only have 76 seats in the Texas House now, down from 88 in 2003. If they hadn't noticed, Republicans lost several dozen seats and the majority nationally, and in Texas Republicans still have a majority at the state level despite the Obama effect, an unprecedented amount of liberal money spent, and some surprising losses in 2006 and 2008. I think you have to look at the policies that have been enacted, and other than Voter I.D. being filibustered by the Democrats we in Texas have been a leader in the national conservative movement. One of Kay's staffers worked at the state party over that same time, so he should know better.
Third I heard that when Tina Benkiser made her announcement some people got up to leave the room and get on the phone. Some people found this to be rather rude, others just viewed it as keeping people in the loop. I would have needed to be there to judge for myself, but I could see what they meant by "rude."
Fourth I heard that Tina's resignation not only gives Rick a new high level person to help gather grassroots support... it also allows the Texas Republican Party a chance to put some new energy in place. I have already heard the leading choices amongst the SREC are all close with Rick and his peeps. I am told they are grateful to Rick for giving Tina Benkiser a chance to leave and give someone else a chance without a messy intraparty challenge... I heard from more than one person that this was a "huge coup for Rick Perry" and "Rick Perry is looking like he is the only one who knows his way around Texas Republican Party politics."
Fifth I heard conflicting things and some frankly kind of stupid misinformation from Kay's side about Tina's new role and the status of the current team members including one of the team players on Rick's side who has been with Rick for more than a decade, but I doubt anyone takes those rumors seriously. I also have a feeling a lot of the details about Tina's role have not been determined yet.
On that issue... I am told that Terry Sullivan is "going nowhere" and Kay never intended to replace him, just bring in help with Keats Norfleet.
Sixth I heard that Tina is bringing some other high level support and money along with her to help out with Rick's campaign. More endorsements perhaps? Rick has been ticking off endorsements almost daily as it is...
Seventh I heard that a big majority of the SREC supports Rick and is working behind the scenes for him in bigger ways than I had realized.
I think the state chairman of the Republican Party of Texas quitting her post to go work for Rick shows just what an uphill challenge Kay has in this race. Mostly it shows the perception out there that Rick just knows what he is doing, Kay does not... it shows that there is a real bandwagon effect happening right now for Rick...
In March though I think the staff assignments may not make as much difference as message and effectiveness in delivering the message from the candidates themselves.
We will see won't we.